Reading Zadie Smith

“A good book is an education of the heart. It enlarges your sense of human possibility what human nature is of what happens in the world. It’s a creator of inwardness.” — Susan Sontag

I did not know Willesden, not the Willesden that exists in Zadie Smith’s novel, White Teeth. Her North West London seemed far from my little corner in Hoxton. London as a whole still felt foreign to me, so I read White Teeth as an outsider, not really understanding the multicultural setting that Smith described. Silence followed, at least, in class discussions. Multiculturalism in London felt more authentic than the American version, which seemed forced in some ways. Racial tensions never seemed apparent in London or perhaps, I wasn’t looking for them. White Teeth was published five years before I moved to the UK. Time changes us so it wasn’t strange to think a country may have evolved. While my classmates were looking at their culture, I was examining a culture that I did not really know yet. Smith made the plot accessible and slowly I understood the London in her novel.

Read the rest of this entry »